Studying Abroad for Students with Disabilities

(Information adapted from the University of Minnesota and MIUSA websites)

Accessibity Overseas

Just as cultures differ, so do disability accommodations and perceptions. The key for any study abroad participant is flexibility. It is important to communicate your needs and consider alternative ways to meet them. Disability Resources and the Office of Study Abroad are here to assist you before and during your trip abroad. If you are considering study abroad for the first time, set up an appointment with one of our Study Abroad Advisors and check out our website for information on different programs. For supplemental information, students are encouraged to contact Mobility International for assistance in finding programs and overseas support services.

Which Program is Right for You?

  • What are your academic and personal interests?
  • How important are disability access factors such as public transportation, distance across campus, weather, a community of other people who are Deaf, and local disability groups, for example?
  • What tradeoffs are you willing to make in order to have the experience you are seeking?
  • Do you have a sense of adventure or do you want a more predictable and comfortable experience? See more at http://www.miusa.org/resource/tipsheet/wheretogo
  • Once you've narrowed down your search, consider these questions:
    • What are the physical environments like in your host country?
    • Is learning mainly from lecture, readings, independent research, etc?
    • How are the assignments different?
    • What housing options exist?
    • Do you need to do your own cooking? Laundry?
    • Is transportation available and accessible?

Quick Tips for Going Abroad

  • Disclose your disability needs to program staff early, so appropriate arrangements and reasonable accommodations can be made in advance.
  • Remember that other cultures may provide disability access in a different way—learn about what types of accommodation are typically provided in your host country, and be flexible and open to different ways of accommodating your disability.
  • Before you go, find out as much as you can about your host culture and how they view disability by reading, talking to other students, and attending pre-departure orientation sessions. The more you know, the better prepared you will be for the interaction between your disability and the new environment.
  • Think about how you will answer questions about your disability in the language of your host country—look up key vocabulary words ahead of time.